New historicism and race and ethnic studies
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New Historicism and Race and Ethnic Studies. “New” vs. “Old” Historicism. “Old” Historicism History provides the background and context for a story. History is stable and objective. Literature reflects or presents history. “New” vs. “Old” Historicism. “Old” Historicism

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New Historicism and Race and Ethnic Studies

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New historicism and race and ethnic studies

New Historicism and Race and Ethnic Studies


New vs old historicism

“New” vs. “Old” Historicism

  • “Old” Historicism

    • History provides the background and context for a story.

    • History is stable and objective.

      • Literature reflects or presents history.


New vs old historicism1

“New” vs. “Old” Historicism

  • “Old” Historicism

    • History provides the background and context for a story.

    • History is stable and objective.

      • Literature reflects or presents history.

  • New Historicism

    • Both history and literature are complex and uncertain.

    • Need to consider multiple points of view and interpretations.

      • History and literature = cycle of mutual influence. (Make and remake each other.)


New historicism

New Historicism

  • Move away from essentialism

    • History is a construction rather than an “essence” or truth.

      • E.g. One view= Christopher Columbus discovered America.

      • Another=Columbus was a brutal invader and conqueror.

    • It’s important to consider history from multiple viewpoints and to understand it as a “text.”


Race and ethnic studies

Race and Ethnic Studies

  • Overlaps with more specific focal points and areas:

    • South Asian Studies

    • African Studies

    • Latin American Studies

    • Pacific Studies

    • In the U.S.:

      • Asian American Studies, Latina/Latino studies (or Chicana/Chicano studies, depending on emphasis), American Indian Studies, African American Studies, Hawaiian Studies, etc.


Zooming in gloria anzald a and borderlands la frontera

“Zooming In”: GloriaAnzaldúa and Borderlands/La Frontera

  • Theorist in cultural studies, feminism, and queer theory

  • Borderlands/La Frontera

    • Emphasis on honoring or celebrating the mixing of national, racial, sexual, and gendered cultures and identities.

    • Language and Identity

      • Seamless movement between many different languages and dialects (multiple versions of English and Spanish, including Spanglish and Nahuatl)


New historicism and race and ethnic studies

“So if you really want to hurt me, talk badly about my language. Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity−I am my language. Until I can take pride in my language, I cannot take pride in myself. Until I can accept as legitimate Chicano Texas Spanish, Tex-Mex, and all of the other languages that I speak, I cannot accept the legitimacy of myself. Until I am free to write bilingually and to switch codes without always having to translate, while I still have to speak English or Spanish when I would rather speak Spanglish, as as long as I have to accommodate English speakers rather than having them accommodate me, my tongue will be illegitimate.

I will no longer be made to be ashamed of existing. I will have my voice: Indian, Spanish, white. I will have my serpent’s tongue−my woman’s voice, my sexual voice, my poet’s voice. I will overcome the tradition of silence” (81).

Anzaldúa, Gloria Evangelina. Borderlands/La Frontera. 2nd Ed. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1999.

Gloria EvangelinaAnzaldúa


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